Babies are magical! So much development happens in the first years of life, and the first 3000 days are the most important.
Let have a closer look at the first year of life.
As parents, the most important things you can do is provide physical touch, eye contact, and love for your little one.
Skin-to-skin contact is critical for your child to feel connected to you. They are used to being inside your body and hearing your heartbeat at all times. Give them the same experience by placing them on mom or dad’s chest without clothes on (under a blankie), which will allow them to experience you by smelling, touching and hearing you.
By 6 weeks, they will usually start to lift their head when placed on their tummy. Neck control is vital as all movement generates here.
Tummy time, tummy time, tummy time!!!
Even if your little one doesn’t like being placed on their tummy, this is very important from birth. The baby can be placed on your chest when you are lying on your back to facilitate eye contact, as well.
By 3 – 4 months of age, your baby will start to have head control when sitting on your lap, allowing them to observe the world around them.
By 6 months old, they will be able to sit independently. Take time to enjoy this as they will soon start to get very busy, and you will have no free time to sit and read a book….. !!
By 9 months old, babies start to crawl – this is a significant milestone!!
Crawling is important for the development of:
- Weight-bearing capability for the arms and legs
- Bilateral integration: coordinated movement between the two sides of the body
- Motor planning: planning and then executing movements with multiple steps
- Eye-hand coordination
- Hand strength
- Exploring my environment
- Touch integration: being able to discriminate about what I am touching and to tolerate the sensation. Have you ever seen babies touching grass for the same time – most of them over-react by lifting their feet high?
Baby should be eating solid food from around 10 months of age, e.g. mashed banana/butternut/porridge.
And then they start to realise that they can say ‘NO’ by shaking their head. And they will start doing this a lot as they begin to develop a sense of self. This can be a very humorous time for parents and so cute to video.
The last important milestone for this age group is walking, at around 12 months of age. First, the baby will start standing by holding onto your legs or onto furniture and then cruise, moving from side-to-side, around the couches/chairs in the living room.
Enjoy the first year of life by cuddling often, loving and laughing!!
Author: Carla Grobler (Occupational Therapist)